Just what is an altbash, you may be asking? Think of it as the Alice in Wonderland “very merry unbirthday” for the 21st century. Altbashes are celebrations for events outside traditional milestones or occasions, like divorces, adopting a pet, or paying off a significant loan. And they’re projected to be a trend for 2022.
At C+R, we’ve been identifying key trends for more than a decade, and we share them with our clients across a wide swath of industries – including food and beverage, durable goods, financial services, pets, and more – plus what it all means for the insights community.
Here are our top three macro trends to watch for in 2022 and beyond:
- The Metaverse
- Social Responsibility
- Whole Self Nourishment
Welcome to the Metaverse
Many consumers may not realize they're already in the metaverse, a centralized, online space combining virtual, augmented, and physical realities. Proto versions of the metaverse have been around for years (think Second Life or SimCity), and many games popular with Gen Alpha include various components (such as Roblox). However, 2022 could accelerate the metaverse’s evolution as brands race to bring products and services that allow users to work and play in virtual 3D spaces more seamlessly.
Facebook made headlines in 2021 when the company rebranded itself as Meta and vowed to “help bring the metaverse to life.” Since then, other companies have jumped on the bandwagon. And the metaverse was a hot topic at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, with established brands (such as P&G, Samsung, and Hyundai) and newcomers alike pitching products and services designed to help consumers bridge the gap between their “virtual” and “IRL (in real life)” lives.
Social responsibility in its various forms has been making the annual trends list for years. In 2020 we said goodbye to single-use plastics; in 2021, many turned to ESG investing to show support for companies who make a commitment to saving the environment, for example.
This year, both businesses and consumers will do their part to continue the journey toward social responsibility. For consumers, sustainability is still vitally important; however, many could begin to look at brands’ claims with a more critical eye, demanding transparency and specifics. They will also look to brands to help them understand environmental tradeoffs. For example, is it better to “rent the runway” and incur the environmental impacts of shipping or buy clothing and recycle?
Additionally, consumers will continue to expect brands to include everyone in authentic ways, no matter their gender, race, or background. Consumers will want to see evidence of inclusion in advertising, the makeup of a company’s employees, and who their products and services are made for. To ensure they’re meeting this demand, look for brands (if they haven’t already) to turn to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives for help in attracting customers and/or avoiding negative publicity.
Whole Self Nourishment
Finally, the importance of self-care won’t be forgotten in 2022. Consumers will continue to seek fun, unique ways to care for their bodies, minds, and souls.
We’re intrigued at how this macrotrend could play out over the year. Will a more widespread focus on the microbiome help us live healthier, more vibrant lives? Will emotional escape rooms become the new man cave? Exactly how many altbashes will we be invited to, and will there still be cake?
As the COVID-19 pandemic eases into an endemic phase this year, the “new abnormal” reality has taken root. Shoppers and consumers have had to look inward, and in the case of VR headsets, inward in a way that feels outward. It’s introspection on a new level. As in any time of change, this kind of seismic shift in behavior represents an opportunity for your brand to meet your consumers where they are. The time is ripe for checking in.
Need help connecting with your consumers? Want to know what other trends could be big in 2022? Or do you need expert guidance to make sense of these trends and how they could impact your business this year? We’re happy to share what we know and/or design a custom study to obtain insights into consumers’ shifting needs and what it will take to delight them in the short and long term. Please reach out—we’d love to talk!